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tv   Nightly Business Report  PBS  February 7, 2013 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wpbt >> this is n.b.r. >> tom: good evening. i'm tom hudson. macy's, gap, and target check in with strong january sales. but with smaller paychecks, and gas prices surging, can americans keep shopping? >> susie: i'm susie gharib. apple says it will weigh calls for it to return more cash to shareholders. that after a hedge fund titan challenges apple's latest proxy vote. >> tom: and activision blizzard, the big video game maker, is roaring back to life with a new game, and a new strategy. we talk with its c.e.o. >> susie: that and more tonight on "n.b.r."! >> tom: americans may have less take home pay this year, but that doesn't seem to be holding back spending. retailers posted their biggest
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monthly sales gains in a year in january, despite the expiration of a payroll tax holiday. 20 retailers tracked by thomson reuters reported an average sales gain of 5% in january. that's nearly twice as strong as last year. erika miller looks at whether the sales momentum can continue. >> reporter: if there's one thing helping retailers these days, it's cold weather. low temperatures in much of the nation has boosted sales of coats and warm clothing. so no surprise that department stores selling those items were big winners in january. kohls, nordstrom, and macy's all posted double digit sales increases. >> if you are trying to clear winter goods that didn't sell over the holidays, the cold snap is a big help. we had a bunch of weather events-- cold, wet, snow, ice, so things are selling out even if they've been marked down. that's really cleaning out inventory that needs to get out
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before the spring. >> reporter: but to be fair, there was also a quirk of the calendar that gave many big retailers a fifty-third week in their fiscal year. that meant an extra week of sales in january. >> but spending is not expected to be strong heading into spring. americans are paying more for gasoline. and many families are now feeling the pain of higher payroll taxes. >> reporter: and many families may be making fewer trips to the mall because of other spending priorities: >> automobile sales have been coming back now for a full year. that is cannibalizing some of the discretionary spending power out of all the other categories, whether it's apparel, sporting goods, etcetera. >> reporter: johnson predicts retail sales overall will rise 2.9% this year. that's less optimistic than the national retail federation's 3.4% forecast. >> income growth is still very sluggish. and of course we have the uncertainty from the sequester and all the washington nonsense occurring.
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so we think we would do very well to get near to a 3% annual growth rate. >> reporter: going forward, it will be harder to identify retail sales trends month-to- month. four major chain stores; target, macys, kohl's, and nordstrom, will no longer provide monthly same-store sales figures. they join others like wal-mart and sears that only report sales quarterly. >> in some ways it makes it easier because we don't have to explain anomalies that change month to month, and the effects of sandy, or the effects of the 53rd week. >> reporter: but he won't be completely off the hook. at least 16 chains will still report monthly numbers. erika miller, "n.b.r.," new york. >> susie: even though those retail numbers are a positive sign for the u.s. economy. investors were worried about some not so good signals today about europe's economy. stocks turned negative on comments from europe's central bank president saying the strong euro could dampen europe's recovery. here on wall street, the dow fell 42 points, the nasdaq lost three and the s&p slipped over two points.
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>> tom: still ahead, douglas burtnick joins us, he's with aberdeen asset management. >> susie: a battle is brewing between a big name hedge fund investor and apple. at issue: how to get apple to unlock value for shareholders. today david einhorn of greenlight capital sued apple to block a move that would stop the use of preferred shares. shareholders will vote on this at apple's annual meeting on february 27. what einhorn is proposing is that apple pay out more of its cash hoard to investors, using a special kind of preferred stock. einhorn has a lot at stake: his fund owns more than one million shares of apple, and while the stock rose a bit today, it's down 35% since its peak of $700 last september. late today apple issued this statement: "apple's management team and board of directors have been in active discussions about returning additional cash to
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shareholders. as part of our review, we will thoroughly evaluate greenlight capital's current proposal to issue some form of preferred stock." >> susie: joining us now with more, brian white, tech analyst at topeka capital markets. so brian, a lot going on in this battle. what's your take. i know you were talking to some people at green light today. what's your take on david ianhorn's strategy, and does it make sense in. >> well, i think it makes a lot of sense. and a lot of investors are frustrated about the lack of crash distribution from apple. and i think the argument really reached in deflection point today. so i think we'll see some activity from the board in the coming months. >> well, apple said that it is going to consider all options. what do you think it's going to do? what do you recommend it to do? >> what we have recommended, you know, just a few weeks ago a head of earnings was increasing the dividend to about 375 to $5 per share
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from 265 per share a quarter. and also increasing the stock buyback to 100 billion over five years. if they did both of these initiatives, they would only eat into about 60 to 70% of their annual free cash flow. apple generates 50 billion of free cash flow every year. >> s that a lot of cash. well, this is a problem, all this cash holding on to cash is not specific only to apple. i can see why shareholders would benefit from some kind of special cash dividend. but what's in it for apple? could they do better things with this cash? >> well, i think what's in it for apple is they have 137 billion in cash now. at the edge of fiscal 15 they will have 241 billion. and what they need to do is tap into a new investor base. the value investor. so currently apple doesn't have a lot of value investors to support the stock. raising the dividend, doing preferred stock dividend
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yield at 4% or a buyback, i think, will attract a lot of value investors and support the stock, make it go higher. >> talking about the stock, are you very bullish on apple stock. your target price over the next 12 months is $888. right now the stock is at $468. you know, do you really see that the stock getting up to that 800 level in the next 12 months? >> i think it's a very reasonable price target. we've only used a market multiple of 12 times earnings on our calendar 14 number and added back cash. if you look at apple, they have grown 92% a year over the past eight years. the s&p has grown --. apple trades at 6 times x cash. the market trades bat 12 times earnings, so it is a reasonable multiple to get to that valuation. >> brian, how do you think this whole thing will play out. as we mentioned there is a shareholder vote on february 27th. you know, what happens at that meeting and what
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happens to this whole debate and lawsuit. >> so you know you may not necessarily, number one i think you'll see a lot of shareholder activism. a lot more discussion, i think, about the cash ballot. you may not necessarily see something right away. but i think shortly there after i think you know something will be done. whether it's an increase in the dividend, an increase in the buyback, or some type of preferred stock with a high dividend that david einhorn's proposing. any of those make a lot of sense. i think david has brought this discussion to the next level and something's gok done very, very soon about this. >> all right, very interesting. we'll see what happens. brian, thanks a lot. i know that you are recommending the stock but dow have any disclosures to make about apple. >> i mean i think it's the best value, the best company that i cover, did represents a tremendous buy at this level. >> dow own the stock. >> i do not own the stock. >> okay, thanks a lot.
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i apologize for features in the background but there is an event going on at the floor of the new york stock exchange. thanks a lot, brian white, tech analyst at topeka capital management. >> tom: president obama is once again pushing for a big deal to reduce the deficit. in a preview of the themes he'll lay out in next week's state of the union address, the president told house democrats today he'd press for a big agenda covering everything from fairness, and jobs to deficits and debt. darren gersh has more. >> reporter: with just a few weeks to go before automatic across the board spending cuts kick in, the president told fellow democrats his state of
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the union address next week will call for a change in course. >> i am prepared, eager and anxious to do a big deal, a big package, that ends this governance by crisis where every two weeks, or every two months, or every six months, we are threatening this hard-won recovery. >> reporter: republicans may not applaud during that part of the speech. they've blasted the president for offering symbolic solutions like a tax on corporate airplanes that would raise enough money to cover one month week of the automatic spending cuts know collectively as the sequester. given the stand off, analysts now predict the sequester will take effect as planned on march first. >> both sides of the aisle are teed up to pursue the battle of the sequester, because it's the fight they want to have. it was the price that they paid to avoid the fight over the debt ceiling and potential government shutdown.
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>> reporter: the president's state of the union will also include a pitch for more job creation. and it will be cast as part of an overall plan to make the economy work for everyone. >> the question that i will ask myself on every item, on every issue is, is this helping to make sure that everybody's got a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the same rules, because i believe that is a growth agenda. >> reporter: the republican response will be delivered by florida's marco rubio, a strong supporter of immigration reform. rubio says he'll stress how free enterprise can help strengthen the middle class. darren gersh, "n.b.r.," washington. >> susie: more uncertainty today about when boeing's dreamliner will be cleared to fly. the nation's top transportation safety official, is now questioning the testing process used to assess the safety of lithium ion batteries in boeing 787 planes.
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the national transportation safety board says the f.a.a. has to re-think those tests, because many were based on assumptions that have since proved wrong. battery issues forced the grounding of all 50 dreamliners in service. >> susie: blockbuster earnings from linked-in tonight, and they came in far above expectations. the professional networking site earned $0.35 a share in the fourth quarter, beating estimates by $0.16. revenues also came in higher than expected: up 81% to $303 million. and it was a milestone quarter for membership, it topped the
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200 million user mark, adding two members every second. linkedin shares surged after hours, jumping over $12 or 11% from its closing price of $124 a share. the stock went public in 2011 at $45 a share. >> tom: shares of the world's largest video game publisher gained some ground after the close on the back of better than expected quarterly results. on an adjusted basis, activision blizzard earned $0.78 a share, that's $0.06 better than what analysts were expecting. sales were also higher than the year ago period. and, after three down years, the gaming industry is expected to grow 9% this year to nearly $80 billion. ruben ramirez reports on the reasons why there is renewed enthusiasm in the sector. >> reporter: for the first time in years, video game stocks are catching the eye of investors. >> reporter: two of the big three, electronic arts and take two interactive, have seen big stock rallies in the past six months. analysts say interest is likely to continue gaining momentum
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throughout the year, and the laggard of the trio, activision is back in the game. activision is the company behind the call of duty franchise, and, more recently, skylanders. >> the way we look at it is this something that is new to the category. is this something where we have some secret sauce. some competitive advantage. >> reporter: hirshberg likens actvision games to big budget studio films which can take years to produce and cost millions, with the hope of developing them into franchises. >> the mantra that you're seeing across all publishers is bigger fewer better. so its going to be high risk but there can potentially be very high rewards. >> reporter: the billion dollar franchises like madden n.f.l. and call of duty target the 18- 30 year old so-called hard core gamer. activision, like it's competitors, is trying to diversify it's player base. >> i think our strategy is to make different types of games that appeal to different types of gamers.
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certainly we have led the industry in revitalizing this groups interest in games with skylanders and were very pleased to have done that. >> reporter: while skylanders has been a big hit with kids in the virtual world, in the retail world it has opened up new business opportunities with more than 100 product licenses for everything from backpacks to megablocks. >> usually it takes years if not decades to get the kind of licensing impact and footprint that we've been able to generate in just 15 months since our debut these characters and this idea has caught fire in such a meaningful way. >> reporter: the newest competition comes not from other big game makers, but from small developers who create games for tablets and smartphones quickly and cheaply. >> in aggregate the games for low-end gamers are doing well, but what you're seeing is that the big publishers don't really have a sustainable competitive advantage there. >> reporter: more than 27% of
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smartphone subscribers have at least one game. close to 35% have at least five on their phones according to visiongain. >> everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and one of the primary uses of those devices is becoming games certainly. that said, i don't think that necessarily has a negative effect on peoples desire for the more immersive and high production value sort of big- screen cinematic experience of the types of games that we make. >> reporter: that high-impact experience relies on a video game console with big-time processing power. that's why there's a lot of interest in the next generation of consoles from sony and microsoft later this year. >> historically new hardware drives a lot of interest and brings about some new capabilities that we as software developers are able to exploit and so i think that its a great time to be in gaming. >> reporter: but whether it's toys or another installment of another popular franchise this fall, hirshberg says innovation is key to keep players coming
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back for more. ruben ramirez, "n.b.r.," new york. >> susie: a massive winter storm is headed to new york, and wall street. the national weather service warning major blizzard conditions will hit the northeast tomorrow. the big apple is bracing for a foot or more of heavy wet snow. tom, that could translate to a quiet day of trading here at the big board tomorrow. >> tom: it would be a needed break from today's selling. let's look at the damage, in tonight's "market focus." >> tom: the major indices pulled themselves back from some early selling to finish the session down a fraction. the morning sell-off in the s&p 500 took the index below 1,500 for a few minutes. but throughout the afternoon, most of those losses were erased with the index finishing higher by 0.2%. 693 million shares traded on the big board. just under two billion traded on the nasdaq. materials led the sector losers, falling 0.6%.
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the energy sector slipped 0.5%. chemical maker f.m.c. weighed on the materials sector after failing to impress wall street with its fourth quarter earnings. shares fell 3.4% as volume almost tripled. it could be some profit taking behind the selling, as the stock was at an all time high earlier this week. f.m.c. makes insecticide and hydrogen peroxide. the company's business has been growing thanks to sales in latin america. it has been months in the making but a merger between u.s. airways and american airlines parent company a.m.r., may be getting close to take off, according to the wall street journal. the combination would create the world's largest airline. among the complications: american is in bankruptcy so it's creditors would take a large stake of any combined company. u.s. airways stock was higher on
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the speculation, rising 3.8%. u.s. airways shareholders would likely get a minority stake if they merge with american airlines. stocks of other major air carriers rallied as well. delta air lines rose 2.7% to a new 52 week high. united continental gained 1.6% to within almost a dollar of a new yearly high. the possibility of online gambling coming to the garden state. new jersey governor chris christ)"├▒pgnounced his support to legalize internet gambling in his state. if it happens, new jersey would be one of the first states to allow it. that support was enough to get gaming stocks moving up. caesars entertainment jumped 18.6% to its highest price since july. boyd gaming saw a more modest 2.7% rally, but volume more than quadrupled. as erika reported earlier in the program, january retail sales are coming in, but so did a warning from the parent company of ann taylor. ann, as the company is known, warned that its fourth quarter sales and margins will be weak,
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blaming super-storm sandy, and disappointing products at its loft stores. shares were hit, falling 7.9%. the stock has been trending lower since september. analysts voiced concerns about ann's fashion choices more than the impact of sandy. another specialty women's retailer, limited brands fell 3.3%. despite stronger than expected january sales, it did not kept its fourth quarter outlook the same. reporting better than expected january results didn't help this trio either. gap same store sales growth was double what was expected but shares fell 3%. kohl's was down 1%. target slipped 0.6%. trading volume was heavier for both of them. four of the five most actively traded exchange traded funds were lower with the emerging markets fund losing 0.9%. the nasdaq 100 tracking fund squeaked out a small gain. and that's tonight's "market focus."
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>> tom: when the final international trade numbers for america are released tomorrow, it will likely show overseas sales of u.s. made goods last year hit a record. that's good news for american manufacturing, and their investors. we spoke with doug burntnick, senior investment manager at aberdeen asset management. >> doug, thanks for joining us ton, how does the improvement that we've seen over the past 12 to 18 months number u.s. exports shape your investment strategy? >> well, the export story is actually really interesting. and what we are finding is
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the companies are both seeing external demand for their products, for everything, from machinery to electronics to chemicals. and they're starting to think about where they really want to manufacture those products. >> that's a big deal because this is the first time in several decades that we've actually thought about manufacturing coming back home to the u.s. >> that affects our investment philosophy from a variety of different ways, not just from the way that we are thinking about manufacturers but also the way we think about how income will evolve within the u.s., regions of the u.s. are likely to grow more rapedly as a result of manufacturing coming home. and the types of products that can be built there. >> tom: so much of that manufacturing went overseas for lower production cost. if it comes back to the u.s., can it still hold the line and maintain margins and profitability? >> well, i think there's
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enough inflation going on in some segments of the lower value added manufacturing overseas that companies are seriously looking at the drivers of their cost. and what they are finding is that the inefficiencies of distance, communication, language and-- are just really too high as this point. and that the differentials on wages and materials costs have come down to the point that it makes much more sense particularly for company that has to develop products quickly, get them to market quickly, to do them here at home. >> one of those advantaged manufacturers you do like in the scenario is united technologies makes carrier air conditions, aches otis elevator, pratt and whitny jet engines, what dow like utx for. >> we think it is at the forefront of a number of things going on in the global economy. as you mentioned, air conditioners, elevators and escalators, these are all components of a return to
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commercial real estate. and carrier and otis are the two leading brands in that arena. >> so to some degree a play on the return of the u.s. real estate market. >> oh, absolutely. we think there is definitely room for both residential and commercial construction over the next few years. >> let me ask you about borg-warner, an auto parts supplier you also like here, europe is creeping back into the concern category, it definitely is, things aren't all golden within your -- >> what we see within a company like borg-warner is that our bottom process leads us to understand where they're going to be 2, 3, 4, years down the road, and we're looking for technology driven companies that can manage their way through little bumps in the road. >> long-term investor it sounds like. >> absolutely. when we initiate position it's multiyear. >> do you have positions in these two stocks if? >> we do. we held them for a long time
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and. >> doug burtnick with aberdeen asset management. tomorrow on "n.b.r." chevrolet returns to the diesel car market, looking to take on volkswagen with its new chevy cruze sedan. and our "market monitor" guest has two qualities he's looking for in stocks: consistency and dependability. kevin caron with washington crossing advisors will join us. >> susie: and finally tonight, valentine's day is just around the corner, one week from tonight to be exact, and it looks like americans will spend more than ever before on their sweeties, nearly $18 billion. the national retail federation says on average, americans will spend almost $131 on candy, cards, and gifts. that's up from $126 last year. so what are people buying, candy is the first choice, then flowers, and jewelry. and tom, apparently men, more than women, spend more on their spouses when it comes to valentine's day.
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how but? what is it going to be, candy? >> tom: chocolate. my beautiful woif is the granddaughter of a jeweller and is a leveragic to flowers so i have to right to the top of the list and go for the candy. >> susie: not a bad thing, at least are you getting her something. that is important, that is nightly business report for thursday february 7th. have a great evening, see you tomorrow. >> tom: you too, susie. have a great night, more on-line, nbr.comeback on the broadcast tomorrow night captioning sponsored by wpbt captioned by media access group at wgbh
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